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Queen Elizabeth park in Vancouver, Canada
Photograph: ShutterstockQueen Elizabeth park in Vancouver, Canada

The 7 best parks in Vancouver

Canada's western metropolis is a city at one with nature, so expect excellence from the best parks in Vancouver

Written by
Mikaela Luke
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Parks, parks and more parks. Vancouver’s greenery is legendary, with the highest concentration of park space of any Canadian urban centre. These parks aren’t left to their own devices either, as the mild British Columbian weather means they are well-loved and well-used. The best parks in Vancouver are perfect for romantic strolls and energetic adventures, gorgeous expanses of flora perfectly designed for exploration. Take a hike, bring the dogs, bike the trails, the choice is yours, and don’t be surprised if you stumble across a gorgeous view of Vancouver and the surrounding mountains. The parks might not get the press that Vancouver’s attractions do (not to mention the city’s nightlife), but these green areas might just be Vancouver’s secret weapon.

RECOMMENDED: The best things to do in Vancouver 

Best parks in Vancouver

This sprawling Vancouver park is well-known worldwide for its iconic location in the downtown peninsula: surrounded by water, full of woodsy trails and creatures, and blessed with views of the mountains. Hang out under the Lion’s Gate Bridge or grab a few tandem bikes and complete the entire 8.8-kilometre Sea Wall loop.

An oasis of tranquillity, the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden was the first large Chinese garden to be built outside China. There’s a free, public section, or you can pay admission to see the entire space—tours are included with your ticket fare, as is complimentary jasmine tea. Take in the jade-green koi ponds and intricate Chinese pottery while keeping your eyes peeled for herons and turtles too.

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Right along Coal Harbour lies a rolling lawn of green grass, tempting anyone looking to rest their legs as they walk through downtown or stop for a snack before jumping on the Sea Wall with their bikes. A long stretch of benches dots the path through the park, perfect for watching seaplanes and sailboats pull up on the dock.

Perched on the highest point in Vancouver in the heart of the city, this botanical park gives everyone access to its panoramic views of downtown and the North Shore mountains for free. Visit at night to enjoy the twinkling lights of the ski slopes or during the day for romantic walks and to admire the flora. The Bloedel Conservatory has exotic plants and birds from the tropics to check out, and there’s also an on-site pitch-and-putt course.

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An East Vancouver park with all the year-round lake activities — fishing, swimming, ice skating — you could wish for. In the summer, the park is hosts a farmers market, live outdoor concert series, and a sandy stretch of beach. Even the autumn days boast beautifully coloured foliage, making for a crisp and gorgeous stroll.

A former railway corridor turned public path, Arbutus Greenway covers 8.5 kilometres (the width of Vancouver) right through the city. Bike, walk or rollerblade your way through neighbourhoods like Kerrisdale, West 4th and even Granville Island. It’s totally car-free, making it perfect for a run with furry friends; Reward them with a frolic at Kits Beach at the end of the path.

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If you need the kids to burn off some steam, take them to the largest free water park on the continent. Located on Granville Island, the water park lets littles run and squeal through spouts of water and mock-rivers while adults can roll out a blanket and tan on the grass. With its bright yellow waterslide and adjacent playground, this park is impossible to miss and a great place to chill with the whole family before doing some shopping at the public market or feeding the resident geese on the island. 

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